I don't think the New York Times is trying to be satirical here:
The Grammys got lucky this year. For a show broadcast from an arena, the Staples Center in Los Angeles, it happened to have top nominees who barnstormed arenas last year — Beyoncé, Taylor Swift, Pink, Green Day — and one who already packs enough spectacle for skyboxes, Lady Gaga.
Yes, how lucky that the record label awards featured the record label's largest acts.
Presumably the NYT is thinking of last year's disastrous bad luck for the Grammys, when the nominations were led by Mumbling Jack McMumbles and Fritwave, the Germanic collective of socially phobic mime artists.
Michael Jackson did alright for a dead guy:
It was another thank-you from a music business that continues to owe Jackson more gratitude, now for being the best-selling act of 2009. His poised son Prince, accepting his father’s latest Grammy, said his “message was simple: love,” adding, “We will continue to spread his message and help the world.”
That's a bit awkward, though, isn't it? Jackson sold more than anyone else not because he was good, but because he was dead, so they effectively dragged his son in to pick up a prize celebrating how well everyone did out of his pa dropping dead.
The Grammys featured the by-now-mandated 'surprising' collaborations - "I'll take one from the current Top 40, one from the greatest acts of the 1970s, and a song from whatever TimeLife Records will be plugging at the break". Lady GaGa and Elton John giving way to Stevie Nicks and Taylor Swift and... well, everybody and an out-of-register Michael Jackson:
[T]he Grammys had the 3-D video that would have been shown during Jackson’s “This Is It” concerts, overlaid with live belting by Usher, Celine Dion, Smokey Robinson, Jennifer Hudson and Carrie Underwood. In a song that sees disaster everywhere, none of them matched the anguish in Jackson’s own vocals, but they came surprisingly close. (Those who didn’t have 3-D glasses saw red and green blurs around Jackson’s Edenic rain forest, complete with innocent child, but were spared the equally protruding live performers.)
Seldom has so much effort been expanded on bringing such a lightweight tune before such a grand audience. How can you really sing "oh, we're completely destroying the world with our consumption of raw materials" in a three-minute segment requiring the wearing of plastic glasses and a whole extra set of cameras without corpsing?
It was to be Beyonce's night - indeed, you suspect there was some sort of contractual obligation insisting it was to be Beyonce's night, given she got to do two songs and wasn't forced to share the stage with someone out of Dr Hook.
Kings of Leon did manage to pick up Record Of The Year for Use Somebody in the face of relentless prize-giving to Beyonce.
Here's the winners:
Album of the Year: "Fearless," Taylor Swift
Record of the Year: "Use Somebody," Kings of Leon
Song of the Year: "Single Ladies (Put A Ring On it)," Beyonce Knowles
New Artist: Zac Brown Band
Pop Vocal Album: "The E.N.D.", The Black Eyed Peas
Female Pop Vocal Performance: "Halo," Beyonce Knowles
Male Pop Vocal Performance: "Make It Mine," Jason Mraz
Rock Album: "21st Century Breakdown," Green Day
Rock Song: "Use Somebody," Kings of Leon
R&B Album: "BLACKsummers'night, "Maxwell
R&B Song: "Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)," Beyonce Knowles
Rap Album: "Relapse," Eminem
Rap Song: "Run This Town," Jay-Z, Rihanna and Kanye West
Best Rap/Sung Collaboration: "Run This Town," Jay-Z, Rihanna and Kanye West
Country Album: "Fearless," Taylor Swift
Female Country Vocal Performance: "White Horse," Taylor Swift
Male Country Vocal Performance: "Sweet Thing," Keith Urban,
Latin Pop Album: "Sin Frenos," La Quinta Estacion
Contemporary Jazz Album: "75," Joe Zawinul & The Zawinul Syndicate
Classical Album: "Mahler: Symphony No. 8; Adagio from Symphony No. 10"
Traditional Gospel Album: "Oh Happy Day," various artists
Dance Recording: "Poker Face," Lady Gaga
Electronic Dance Album: "The Fame," Lady Gaga
Alternative Music Album: "Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix," Phoenix
Spoken Word Album: "Always Looking Up," Michael J. Fox
Comedy Album: "A Colbert Christmas: The Greatest Gift of All!" Stephen Colbert
[The full-if-you-can-be-full-without-polka list is on the Grammys site]